Beverly’s favorite birding resource is a free phone app called Merlin Bird ID. If you’re out birdwatching and see something you don’t recognize, just answer five simple questions and Merlin will come up with a list of photos that might be your bird. Produced by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the app puts 8,000 photos, 3,000 audio recordings and descriptions of every bird in North America right into the palm of your hand.
For complete details on getting Merlin Bird ID and a how-to video, click here.
eBird is an app and a website, also produced by Cornell Lab of Ornithology, that is absolutely amazing. It began with a simple idea — that every birdwatcher, from Day One, has unique knowledge and experience. Here’s the explanation from the website: eBird’s goal is to gather birdwatchers’ information in the form of checklists of birds, archive it, and freely share it to power new data-driven approaches to science, conservation and education.
eBird’s tools make birding way more fun. Our favorite part is the free eBird app that “knows exactly where you are” using your phone’s geolocation. The app then uses other birders’ recent reports from nearby locations, coupled with typical bird distributions, to tell you which birds you’re “most likely” or “somewhat likely” to see where you are in real time. Or you can use the app to tell you where to go. Your sighting lists are stored in eBird’s cloud, and you can go back years to remember what you saw and where. It’s beyond awesome. Click here.
This general guidebook by the American Museum of Natural History comes in two volumes — the Eastern or Western regions. We’re partial to this book because it uses color photographs to ID the birds rather than the drawings found in most other guides. “Birds of North America” is published by DK (Dorling Kindersley), and has the same quick-fact and graphics format that the publisher uses for its popular travel guides. Here’s the Amazon link.
By Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle, (Princeton University Press, 2015)
There are a lot of warblers, and they’re tiny and fast. Unless you get lucky during the spring migration when warblers are too busy singing and eating to hide, figuring out which warbler you saw can seem impossible. Enter “The Warbler Guide,” with at-a-glance photo comparison charts and nearly every other photo that can help. It’s available in many park and National Wildlife Refuge gift shops, but here’s the Amazon link.
We’d love to hear suggestions on favorite birding sites and apps, the places you go for guidance, the tips you have for fellow birders. Email your thoughts and we’ll post them here with your name and hometown, so please be sure to include both.